The question, “What does it mean to live?” might be one of the most important questions we can ask. In fact, this question has been at the heart of our actions this past year. This question is behind lockdowns and openings. This question is behind Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Defund the Police and Support the Blue. You might say the whole political, social, and economic structures of our society have been wrestling with this very question, “What does it mean to live?”
All of us know that living is more than surviving. Living is about thriving! It’s about having a good life. But how can we have a good life when we are in lock down? Or how do you flourish when we are locked up? It’s hard to play when you are stuck on the sidelines or not even allowed to play at all. “What does it mean to live?”
In John 10, Jesus teaches us about what it means to live. Listen to Jesus’ words: Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:7-10). There are three things we can learn about life from these words.
First, there are boundaries to life. Most of us think that the goal of life is complete independence and freedom. That is not a life. What happens to a kite that breaks free of the string? It does not soar; it crashes. We as a people have crashed. Too many of our problems occur because we have allowed self-interest, self-righteousness, and selfishness to lead us beyond the healthy boundaries God has for us. This isn’t new. This is what humans do. When we seek our own way, instead of the way of love, we become lost. We either get hurt or we hurt those around us. Jesus came to mark out the boundaries of our lives.
Second, there are enemies to life. Jesus must protect us from thieves and bandits who want to cheat, steal, and rob us of life. Thieves and bandits steal life. They tell you things cannot change. They keep you down. They lure you into compliance so that you do not disrupt the order of things. They rob you of agency, rob you of dreams, rob you of hope, and rob you of joy. Beware of those who would steal your life.
Third, Jesus is the source of your entire and eternal life. This brings us to the final point. So far, we are looking at the horizontal nature of life. But if we are to live a complete life we must get vertical and look up to God. When we look up, we see the one who comes down to us. When we look up, we see the one who hung on a cross to draw us to him. Jesus is the source of life. “I have come to give you life, and give it abundantly.” Jesus’ whole ministry is about giving life. This is a gift. It has been placed in your hands from heaven above. Open the gift. Get the most out of it. Live lives filled with love for your neighbor, yourselves, and the Lord. When you love, you will live!